SUE PINDER, the principal of West Lothian College, has been appointed the new principal and chief executive of James Watt College.
The Greenock-based college has been riven by financial and staff relations problems, with an official investigation by the Scottish Funding Council reporting a catalogue of mismanagement and debt under the former principal, Bill Wardle.
A five-year recovery plan under Graham Clark, the interim principal, included proposals to cut 35 management and support staff jobs and reduce the 25 academic schools to 12. The college management said it needed to reduce staffing levels and costs, and rein in the expansion of the curriculum, to begin the process of paying off its pound;6.8 million accumulated debts. But the Further Education Lecturers' Association passed a vote of no confidence in Dr Clark and balloted its members on strike action earlier this year.
This week, however, Marian Healy, the Educational Institute of Scotland's national officer for further and higher education, welcomed Mrs Pinder's appointment to lead the college. "Given that she has been responsible for West Lothian College through a very difficult financial period, at a time when it moved from an old to a new building, and the PPP difficulties that she had and the successful negotiation with ministers to buy that out, I think it actually is a good thing for James Watt," she said. "Her record in terms of industrial relations is quite good, so yes, I am pleased."
Mrs Pinder will take up her new appointment in January, 2008, when Dr Clark steps down, as planned, as interim principal.
Originally from Yorkshire, she became principal at West Lothian College in March 2001. Previously, she was assistant principal at Lauder College in Dunfermline, where she set up what is now a thriving commercial business unit.